DON’T LOOK SO SURPRISED: If you’re like us, you got bored as hell reading about the fiscal cliff negotiations and lost interest pretty quickly. Fortunately, Dough Roller has summarized the results for us. (SPOILER ALERT: your taxes are going up.) His conclusion:
I’ve been a member of the middle class all of my life. I was in the lower middle class as a child, the middle class as a young adult, and in the upper middle class today. And if there’s one thing I know it’s this–whether by increased taxes, decreased spending, or both, folks in the middle class will be the ones that pay for our profligate spending.
I don’t care if you worship the current administration or loathe it. Republican or Democrat. In favor of tax increases or not. The wealthy, however defined, cannot save us from $16 trillion in debt, $1 trillion in annual deficits, and entitlement programs heading for a real fiscal cliff.
Middle class, gird yourself. As surely as night follows day, we will sacrifice more than anybody to pull us out of our fiscal mess.
FREQUENT MILER, AS ALWAYS, IS ON TOP OF THE SITUATION: One technique you can use to reduce your expenses and/or increase your credit card rewards is the double dip. The two steps of the double dip:
- Using an online rewards portal, buy a gift card for your desired merchant.
- Use the portal again and make your purchase with the gift card.
It’s pretty simple in concept, but where it gets complicated is in the varying policies on awarding points for gift card transactions. Sometimes you’ll get points for step 1, sometimes for step 2, sometimes for both, and sometimes for neither. Or else the terms & conditions will say that no points are awarded for step 1, but they are for step 2, except the opposite will happen. And so forth and so on.
Fortunately for us, Frequent Miler is on the scene with a listing of who’s likely to give you what. If this sort of thing appeals to you, then his article is definitely worth a read. He also covered how to find the best online shopping rewards portals a while back as well.
ANOTHER APP-O-RAMA: Another credit card churn data point, this one from Point Me To The Plane. The results: 8 new credit cards and a potential 350,000 points. Not a bad haul! PMTTP also tracked his credit scores. Transunion dropped by 8 points and Experian dropped by two. Fears of credit card apps hurting your credit rating tend to be overblown. Unless you’re getting ready for a mortgage, there isn’t much to worry about.
DO MORE BY TRYING TO DO LESS: According to Slate, the best way to approach your new year resolutions is to aim low:
If you were to ask Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir or Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan for a better New Year’s strategy, they’d likely suggest that the best resolution you can make is to do fewer things in 2013. The researchers argue that when busy people get busier, it leads to ignored deadlines, a cluttered desk, and a vicious cycle of falling further and further behind. Amid the disorder, a lot of bad decisions get made, and the best means of escape from this cycle may be a moratorium on new obligations.
Shafir and Mullainathan are leaders in the field of behavioral economics, which aims to apply insights from psychology to the study of economic decision-making. In their recent work, summarized in the forthcoming book, Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, they use behavioral economics to explain why conditions of scarcity—whether of time or money—often lead people to make bad decisions.
Makes sense, although we’re always suspicious of people who tell us exactly what we want to hear.